The premise of dueling con artists who eventually team up to take down a mark gets a new spin in director Chris Addison’s The Hustle from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The Hustle is a remake of the classic 1988 comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels which was a remake of the sixties film Bedtime Story. The Hustle opens up with an introduction of Penny (Rebel Wilson) and her style of coning a mark. Penny uses her natural gift of gab to get over on men. Across the pond French con artist Josephine (Anne Hathaway), uses a style of the con that involves her beauty and downplaying her intelligence.
Eventually, the two cross paths on a train to trip to France. Not wanting to compete with a fellow con-woman on her home turf, Josephine decides it is best to team up with Penny. The two women then set out to have some fun, all at the expense of unsuspecting men. When a goldmine mark in the form of wealthy American tech genius Thomas (Alex Sharp) arrives in France, the women become rivals once again.
When it comes to remaking a film, I often find myself in the minority, as remakes do not usually bother me. Sometimes a movie comes out for its time and works for the audience of the time. In the age of female empowerment, a film like The Hustle was bound to come along. In retrospect, there are only seven basic plots, so there is an argument that every movie is a remake of some sort. Jac Schaeffer’s script for The Hustle is a mixture of the quest and comedy plot points.
The chemistry between Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway is a motif to the characters portrayed by Michael Caine and Steve Martin in 1988’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Hathaway’s gracious performance as Josephine is a great modern take on the smooth operator that Michael Caine portrayed. Rebel Wilson, on the other hand, gives a hilarious animated performance that differs from Steve Martin’s performance. The women have great chemistry, and both get a chance to display their comedic talents throughout the film.
Anne Hathaway who I have been a fan since her work on the short-lived show Get Real displays her natural aura and comedic charm. Throughout the film. Hathaway uses various accents as part of her cons, which Hathaway accomplishes with ease. While her performance is hilarious, Rebel Wilson does not bring anything new to the table. However, the women are having so much playing off each other’s comedic strengths; I was not that bothered by Wilson’s typecasting.
In his feature directorial début, Chris Addison shows that he has a natural knack for directing comedy. With the many sight gags in the film, Addison television background is apparent. The director also makes the wise choice to keep the film’s runtime at a brief and fast-paced ninety-four minutes. Addison and his screenwriter Jac Schaeffer know that their thin premise for The Hustle can only go for so long before jokes become stale.
While I do wish that the ending twist for The Hustle took a different narrative route than its source material, I still recommended the film, especially if you have never seen Dirty Rotten Scoundrels or Bedtime Story.
Final Grade C+